What is your love language?
We are all familiar with the concept of romantic love and how it affects our relationships. The desire for romantic love in our relationships is something that is part of who we are as human beings. One of the most difficult tasks in relationships that we face today is how to keep our romantic love alive. For many, this is the kind of emotion that tends to evaporate as time goes on and resentments build. However, it does not have to be that way. There are many ways in which we can maintain our love alive.
One of the definitions that I have found helpful in my work with couples has been something called “Love Languages”. This concept was developed by Gary Chapman in his book “The five love languages”. In it, he explains how to express your heartfelt commitment to your mate.
One of the key points in his theory is that each person in a marriage has a favorite way of giving and receiving love. In fact, he has outlined 5 specific behaviors in which couples tend to engage in to communicate their love for one another. These are: actions, attentiveness together, physical expression, positive strokes and gift giving/ receiving.
The idea of “love languages” is based on several premises:
- People give love the way they like to receive love.
- Love partners usually do not have the same way of giving and receiving love.
- When our partner expresses love the way we like- in our “love language”, we feel loved, cared for and validated.
- When our partner expresses love in their own “love language” their effort often goes unnoticed.
Now, you may ask yourself how does this affect my relationship with my significant other? It affects it tremendously, because if you do not express your love in a form in which your significant other understands, he or she will fail to interpret this expression as love. For example, if you like to give hugs as a way of expressing your love and your spouse is not comfortable with close physical contact, then this expression of love will not be reciprocated. In addition, if your spouse loves to receive compliments and this is not your area of strength, then he/she will feel unloved.
Knowing your own love language will make it easier to communicate the types of things that make you feel loved, and getting to know your spouse’s will help you plan the kinds of things that will make him or her feel loved.
To identify your own love language, first make a list of all the behaviors that your partner or someone else who has been important in your life does or has done that has made you feel important, loved and cared for. These can as simple or complicated as you want.
Some examples are:
- Help around the house (make dinner, put the kids to bed, help with dishes, etc.)
- Household chores and special projects.
- Grocery shopping.
- Sitting and talking.
- Going to dinner, just the two of us.
- Going for long walks together
- Hugs, kisses, holding hands.
- Compliments in hair, clothes and/or physical attributes.
- Saying “I love you” often.
- Expressing gratitude for ordinary things like house or yard work.
- Giving small surprise gifts.
- Sending flowers.
- Putting the effort to find the right gift.
You can also ask your partner to complete a similar list so that both of you are able to understand each other’s needs better. Once you and your partner have a complete list you will want to put this information to good use. The more ways that you can express your love according to your partner’s love language, the more that your partner will feel loved, the romantic love from years past will be recreated. And the more love that your spouse feels, the more he or she will want to reciprocate.
If you find that you are having a difficult time communicating and/or identifying your own love language, you can always seek the professional assistance of a marriage counselor to help you achieve it.